Julius needs to attend Parliamentary School Print E-mail
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Thursday, 08 August 2013 00:00

Julius EspatIt has been 17 months since the last general elections; shortly after the elections Julius Espat was appointed as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Since that time there has been absolutely nothing that has been accomplished by the committee because Julius Espat has been acting like a spoilt brat from the beginning of his tenure. He first unilaterally decided that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should hold public hearings which he simply did not have the authority to do. After a back and forth with the other members, it was agreed that the public could be invited to listen to the hearings. After that wrench was removed Espat, again, unilaterally came up with an agenda for the committee when it is not his role to do so. Again that caused concern within the committee since it is the committee as a group that is responsible for coming up with the agenda. With that the work of the committee was put on hold. Then when it got off again, Julius again tried to limit the scope of work that the committee should do and again the members objected, asking that the work should be thorough and all encompassing to include the 10 years that the PUP was in office. We are sure that Espat is shirking away from that because his name is sure to come up if ever the committee is to begin the work.  

But even before that work commences, Espat is again throwing another wrench in the works. He is now trying to change the composition of the PAC. As it is currently organized, the committee consists of 2 members of the opposition, and 4 members of government who sit on it. The chairman is a member of the opposition. It appears that Julius is not satisfied and is attempting to change what has been in existence from the institution of our parliamentary system. He wants to now change the composition of the committee to include 2 members from government, 2 members from the opposition and 3 members from the Senate to include a church representative, the business community and the unions.

During the meeting of the House of Representatives on Wednesday August 7th, Espat made his first attempt but he failed miserably. By the reckoning of all observers, he simply did not know what he was doing.  He tabled the motion but went about it all wrong.  He proposed to make amendments to the Standing Orders of the House which according to the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow was entirely the wrong way to achieve his goal. “The motion is entirely and wholly misconceived with procedural and substantive errors,” noted the PM. The Prime Minister went on to chide Espat, pointing to glaring errors which include the fact that he did not give enough notice of what he was doing. He also did not attach a draft of the proposed amendments that he was seeking. PM Barrow noted that in fact what Espat was doing was also to try to amend the Senate Standing Orders which the House of Representatives cannot do. He explained that the entire deal was “filled with procedural errors” and procedural rules were not followed. What Espat was attempting to do stated the PM, was to create a Joint (House of Representatives and Senate) Special Select Committee but was going about it the wrong way. He explained that the current composition of the PAC takes into consideration the balance of power of both parties and it is reflected in the committee.  His attempt explained the Prime Minister was “misconceived” and filled with errors and “has absolutely no chance of going anywhere.” He added that what Espat was trying to do was cover the fact that he simply has not been doing his job as the Chairman of the PAC.

Despite the fact that Francis Fonseca and Said Musa attempted to come to Espat’s aid, his motion was denied. Speaker of the House, Hon. Michael Peyrefitte denied the motion stating that “ the National Assembly is not a testing ground.” He even noted that he attempted to help Espat in coming up with the motion but Espat rather chose to have the assistance of the former Clerk of the National Assembly, Conrad Lewis, who properly misguided Espat.

We are sure that Espat’s attempt will not end here. But in the mean time, we ask him to please get on to doing the job he was appointed to do and stop pussyfooting around his responsibility which will ultimately have him have to dig into his misdeeds during the PUP tenure in office between 1998 and 2008.